You Can Trust God
During World War II, in the terrible days of the Blitz, a father, holding his small son by the hand, ran from a building that had been struck by a bomb. In the front yard was a shell hole. Seeking shelter as quickly as possible, the father jumped into the hole and held up his arms for his son to follow. Terrified, yet hearing his father’s voice telling him to jump, the boy replied, ‘I can’t see you!’ The father called to the silhouette of his son, ‘But I can see you. Jump!’ The boy jumped, because he trusted his father. In other words, he loved him, he believed in him, he trusted him and he had confidence in him.
‘Faith’, in the Bible, is primarily about putting our trust in a person. In that sense it is more akin to love. All loving relationships involve some element of trust. Faith is trust in God that transforms all your other relationships.
Be confident in the Lord
Are you a confident person? If so, where does that confidence come from? Does it come from what you do or what you possess? Does it come from your education, looks, sporting ability or some other skill you have? Does it come from what other people think about you?
There is nothing wrong with these things. Be confident, but ultimately your confidence should come from ‘the Lord’. It is possible to have none of the other things and still be confident.
The writer of Proverbs says, ‘The Lord shall be your confidence’ (v.26a, AMP). The object of your faith is a person, ‘the Lord’. God is the one person you can totally trust in everything. This ‘confident trust’ (v.23, AMP) transforms the way you live your life. It gives you:
The fool is ‘self-confident’ (v.35, AMP). But those who are confident in the Lord are wise: ‘Preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you’ (v.21). Wisdom, good judgment and discernment come from walking closely with God.
Success at work, wealth and fame are of little value if you do not have peace. Peace comes from a right relationship with God. There is no pillow as soft as a clear conscience: ‘When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster’ (vv.24–25a). Whatever happens, you can trust that God is with you and in control.
‘Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God’s hand for that person’ (v.27, MSG). Take every opportunity to do good; if you have the ability to help someone, do not delay (v.28).
‘Do not contrive or dig up or cultivate evil against your neighbour, who dwells trustinglyand confidently beside you’ (v.29, AMP). Trust in God leads to a love for your neighbour.
‘The Lord… takes the upright into his confidence’ (v.32). When the Lord is our confidence, he takes us into his confidence. This is a wonderful image of what intimacy with God looks like: ‘His confidential communion and secret counsel’ (v.32a, AMP).
God ‘gives grace to the humble’ (v.34b). If your confidence comes from trusting the Lord you will have no cause for pride. God promises to give you grace, blessing and honour (vv.33–35).
Lord, help me to live the life of faith – walking closely with you and putting my trust and confidence in you.
Believe in Jesus
Jesus says, ‘If you have faith and do not doubt… it will be done’ (v.21). The answer is to ‘believe… believe… believe’ (vv.22,25,32). This is the one word that holds together the three otherwise seemingly disparate passages.
Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death
Jesus says, ‘If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer’ (v.22). ‘If you embrace this kingdom life and don’t doubt God, you’ll not only do minor feats like I did to the fig tree, but also triumph over huge obstacles… Absolutely everything, ranging from small to large, as you make it a part of your believing prayer, gets included as you lay hold of God’ (vv.21–22, MSG).
Try it today. Ask, believe, then trust God.
Demonstrate your faith by your actions
The fig tree does not do what it is supposed to do – bear fruit (vv.18–20). The second son in the parable does not do what he is supposed to do – obey his father’s instructions (vv.28–31). Similarly, the religious leaders do not do what they are supposed to do – believe in Jesus.
Rather than put their faith in Jesus, they question Jesus’ authority and ask him, ‘By what authority are you doing these things? ... And who gave you this authority?’ (v.23). Jesus answers with a question about the origin of John’s baptism, which shows that the religious leaders have also failed to trust John the Baptist. They discuss between themselves, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will ask, “Then why didn’t you believe him?”’ (v.25).
The religious leaders’ faith is all about ideas and discussions, and so they miss the personthat faith is all about: Jesus.
Enter the kingdom of God by faith
Jesus contrasts the religious leaders who do not believe with the tax collectors and prostitutes who ‘repent and believe’ (v.32).
The tax collectors and prostitutes were seen as the lowest of the low (‘crooks and whores’, v.32, MSG), and yet Jesus said that because many of them had believed in him, they were entering the kingdom of God first.
Have you noticed how often seemingly ‘upright’ people seem uninterested in Jesus? They simply do not see any need. On the other hand, I have often been astonished by the openness and spiritual hunger of those in prison and ex-offenders. It is through going into the prisons that I have realised why Jesus loved to spend his time with the marginalised. They are the ones who are often most responsive to Jesus.
No one is beyond hope. Even if the past has been full of wrongdoing, nothing you have thought or said or done puts you beyond the reach of entering the kingdom of God. Like the first son in the parable, all that is needed is a change of heart and mind and to do what the father says (v.29). Only repent and believe in Jesus.
Lord, thank you that you say: ‘If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer’ (v.22). Lord, today I ask…
Keep trusting when tested
Job learnt to trust God even though he did not understand what was going on in his life. Faith involves trusting God even when you don’t have all the answers.
Faith is often tested when we go through difficult times. Again, there is a striking contrast between Job and his friends. Eliphaz falsely accuses Job of mistreating the poor, the hungry and widows. He said, ‘That is why’ (22:10) Job was suffering. It must have been so galling for him to be falsely accused in this way. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
Eliphaz’s theology was simplistic and defective: ‘Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you’ (v.21). But life is more complex than that.
By contrast, Job was struggling with the real world of often inexplicable, innocent suffering. Yet he was full of faith in the midst of ‘groaning’ (23:2). Everything had gone wrong in Job’s life. God seemed miles away (‘If only I knew where to find him’, v.3a).
Sometimes nothing seems to make sense in our lives. God may be using our circumstances to test us. Choose to trust him anyway.
Job said, ‘When he has tested me, I shall come forth as gold’ (v.10b). Gold was refined and tested by heating it and skimming off the dross over and over again until the reflection of the goldsmith could be seen in it. In the midst of his terrible suffering, Job trusted that God would use it all for good and he would emerge purer and holier. Somehow, he managed to cling on to God:
‘My feet have closely followed his steps;
I have kept to his way without turning aside.
I have not departed from the commands of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread’ (vv.11–12).
As we look at Job’s life, we see that strength grows through struggles, courage develops in challenges and wisdom matures from wounds. When God tested Job, his faith emerged as pure gold.
Lord, in those difficult times when I seem to be in the refiner’s fire, help me to put my faith and trust in you and to ‘come forth as gold’ (v.10b). Help me every day to live a life of trust and confidence in you.
When I read the Bible, I’m usually looking for some encouraging verses. I often skim over ones like ‘the fatherless child is snatched from the breast; the infant of the poor is seized for a debt’ (Job 24:9). But it is a tragedy that this is still happening today. Children are being ‘snatched’ and sold into brothels. Children, women, and men are ending up in slavery. I now feel that in whatever way I can, I must stand up and fight against this terrible injustice.
Verse of the Day
‘If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer’ (Matthew 21:22).
This was taken from The Bible in One Year Commentary for February 1, 2019
Nicky and Pippa first introduced the Bible in One Year commentary in 2011 as a daily email for HTB congregation members. It has since grown into an app with a worldwide following.
Nicky Gumbel is Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), an Anglican church in central London. He is the pioneer of Alpha, an 11-session introduction to the Christian faith now running all over the world.
Nicky has written a number of bestselling books, including Questions of Life, The Jesus Lifestyle, Searching Issues and Why Jesus?
Nicky is married to Pippa. They live in central London and have three grown-up children.